COVID-19 & Your Holiday

Classic Cols of Corsica

Corsica

  • Ride and explore the stunning island of Corsica: coastal roads, stunning mountains, rural countryside and historic towns
  • Flexible itinerary to suit mixed ability groups with optional extras for those looking for a challenge
  • Classic Cols Challenge route with up to 3300m ascent per day
  • Comfortable and friendly hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
  • Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be

Days on the bike

6 days

I don't know how you do it but each holiday I do seems to be better than the last. Doing the challenge was really great with the difficulty ramping up as the week progressed. I'm already looking forward to doing another trip next year.

I Finch

Introduction

Corsica is a stunning island to explore on 2 wheels. It offers all the essential ingredients for a fabulous cycling holiday: mountains, coastal roads, historic ports and towns, sunshine and warm, scented breezes. Add a splash of Corsican culture and it is hard to go wrong! This flexible road cycling holiday showcases Corsica’s highlights perfectly – with far reaching sea views, peaceful roads, beautiful climbs and of course, excellent support from two Marmot guides and vans.

We have designed the Classic route so that taken steadily it is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists, regardless of experience in the mountains. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further: each day there are optional extra loops and climbs, increasing the possible daily distance to around 130km/day with between 2000 to 2800m of climbing per day on the Challenge route.

It is important to us that you book the correct holiday, so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel…

If you are a fit cyclist who has already done a Raid challenge, then you may also be interested in our Raid Corsica.

In case you’re wondering “What’s the difference between Sardinia and Corsica?” (something we’re often asked), we posted a blog to answer this question (in two parts, in fact, there was a lot to say!). It’s a great read and we hope it helps you decide which of these Mediterranean isles is best for you and your two wheels. You can read Part I & Part II by following these links.

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Departure Dates & Prices

Month
Departure
Amount
Single Room Supplement
Jun
6th Jun - 13th Jun
£1450.00
Single Room Sup. £315.00
Sep
19th Sep - 26th Sep
£1450.00
Single Room Sup. £315.00

We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts on the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):

  • Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount
  • Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
  • Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount

Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.

Map

Itinerary

Day 0: Travel Out

We offer included airport transfers at scheduled times from Bastia Airport (BIA) to our start hotel opposite the marina in Bastia  (30mins). You also have to option of arriving by ferry from mainland France (Nice or Toulon) or Italy.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.

Meet your guides, assemble bikes and for those of you on early flights, there is the option of going for a warm-up ride up the Col de Teghime (522m). Alternatively, you can head to the beach or wander into the historic town to enjoy the cafés! Get together in the evening for a trip briefing and a hearty dinner.

Day 1: Bastia to St-Florent

You start your Corsica adventure by cycling around the unique and beautiful Cap Corse. This has to be one of the most stunning roads to cycle in Europe. It undulates its way along the coast, linking sheltered coves for 30km to the fishing village of Macinaggio. You then cross over the Col de la Serra (365m) to the west coast. This side of the peninsula is dramatically different and the road stays high, linking hilltop villages and commanding great views.

Your destination is the idyllic coastal town of St-Florent. The afternoon can be spent exploring the port or relaxing by the hotel pool. As always, there is also more riding to be done and today’s optional extra takes you into the hills behind St-Florent on a quiet road linking rural hamlets and several cols.

Classic route: 106km with 1300m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 160km and 2100m ascent [ride profile]

Day 2: St-Florent to Calvi

Leaving St-Florent, you climb through the geological chaos of the Désert des Agriates – a strikingly different landscape. After a fantastic descent you head inland on a very narrow road taking you through the isolated hamlet of Novella and up to the Col de San-Colombano (694m). The final part is on the old ‘main road’, which traverses the mountainside with big views of the coast to the north.

After Belgodère you join a balcony road that winds its way around the mountainside linking remote villages, while remaining fairly flat for 25km. Eventually, you descend to the historic town of Calvi, hopefully in time to explore the citadel and enjoy the sandy beach.

For challenge riders: today’s first optional extra takes you in search of an even more spectacular view from the Col de Bataille (1096m). At the end of the day the route can also be extended by continuing along the balcony road a bit further to Calenzana.

Easier route: 89km with 900m ascent
Classic route: 104km with 1300m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 137km with 2300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 3: Calvi to Porto

Today’s ride is truly spectacular from the outset, as you head off around the stunning NW coast road, which, despite the fairly rough surface, is a highlight of the island. It leads you into the Col de Palmarella (408m), commanding a great view along the rugged western coastline, which we traverse on a cliff-hugging road for the rest of the day.

Our destination is the idyllic fishing village of Porto. Here you have several options: 1) put the bike to one side and take a boat trip to explore the spectacular and rugged red cliffs of the Calanque di Piana from the sea. 2) Ride up to Piana for lunch and back on a road hewn out of the red cliffs. 3) Continue from Piana on an epic ride over the Col de Lava (491m) and challenging Col de Sevi (1105m).

Easier Route: 82km with 1000m ascent
Classic route: 105km with 1550m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 173km with 3000m ascent [ride profile]

Day 4: Porto to Corte

Tonight’s destination is the historical capital of Corsica – Corte. Set in the centre of the island, it has a very different atmosphere to our other stops. If you have the energy, it is well worth wandering up to the citadel.

Between Porto and Corte lies the central rib of the island, which is crossed via the Col de Vergio (1477m), the highest road pass on Corsica. Although not high compared to the mighty cols of the Alps or Pyrenees, we are starting at sea level, which makes this a significant challenge! Having said that, the gradients are generally kind and the ever-changing scenery keeps you motivated. 

What goes up, must come down and the descent down the Gorge de la Ruda is spectacular.

Here, we split and the classic route heads over the Col de Ominanda (654m) to Corte while the Challenge route takes a beautiful detour into the forested heart of the island over the Col Santàntone (993m).

Classic route: 86km with 1750m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 133km with 2450m ascent [ride profile]

Day 5: Corte to Solenzara

Today you explore the mountainous interior of the island, which is more populated with goats, pigs and cows than people. We set off over the Col de Bellagranajo (715m) and climb up to a cafe adorned with Corsican charcuterie, which makes a welcome coffee stop.

Next up is the great climb of Col de Sorba (1314m) nestled in the sparse pine forest. Yet another epic descent plunges you into the deep ravine of the Défilé de l’Inzecca and almost back to sea level.

From here there you can either head for the coastal plain and enjoy the only flat road of the week or head back into the hills on an amazing “undulating” road (with opt-outs), linking more remote unspoilt villages.

Whichever route you take, you end up in the fishing port of Solenzara, where we spend our final two nights.

Classic route: 92km with 1400m ascent [ride profile]
Harder Route: 117km with 2500m ascent [ride profile]
Challenge route: 134km with 3300m ascent [ride profile]

Day 6: Day ride from Solenzara

The Col de Bavella (1218m) is a fitting grand finale to our week on this wonderful island. It has to be one of the most beautiful mountain passes in Europe with its backdrop of rugged granite peaks, which has also made it a Mecca for rock climbers and walkers.

Taking a leisurely lunch on the Col before heading back to the hotel is a good plan, but as always there are options for extending the ride. Descending down to the mountain town of Zonza and then back up the Col de Bavella (1218m) from the west is highly recommended, whilst those wanting an epic final day can continue on another loop into the mountainous interior.

Once all the bikes are packed up, all that is left to do is enjoy a celebratory dinner and final glass of Pietra beer. Happy Days!

Classic route: 61km with 1500m ascent [ride profile]
Harder Route: 80km with 2000m ascent
Challenge route: 121km with 2800m ascent [ride profile]

Day 7: Travel Back

We offer included airport transfers back to Bastia Airport (1hr 30min) at specified times.

We may also be able to drop you at Bastia Port (please contact us).

Full travel advice and airport transfer timings (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.